Marauders claim first championship over Colts
TYRONE – Bishop Guilfoyle’s Ben Kasun calls the shot that ended the District 6 Class AA boys volleyball championship a “push.”
Not a spike into the Tyrone Middle School gymnasium floor or into a Northern Cambria’s player’s face. Not a dink shot just over the net.
Just a perfectly-placed shot over the Colts’ heads to the back of the right corner of the court that nobody could get to. The point set off a BG celebration that had been a longtime coming.
With the second-seeded Marauders’ 21-25, 25-19, 25-17, 17-25, 15-10 victory over the top-seeded Colts, who had won the last two district titles, they claimed their first boys volleyball district title.
“It’s a great feeling,” BG coach Bob Kasun said. “I’m proud for this team because we’ve worked extremely hard to make this happen. I know a lot of players who have come through the system who have worked hard and haven’t been able to get it done. This is for them too.”
“It felt great. I’m ecstatic right now,” BG junior middle hitter Nick Little said after helping helping hoist the trophy in the gym and, at a gathering in the hall, thanking the fans for their support.
Guilfoyle (14-4) will play a PIAA Tournament play-in game against District 8 champion Obama Academy at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Pittsburgh.
The Colts, in their third year as a program, finished the season with a 14-3 record.
“I’m obviously pretty disappointed,” NC coach Mike Hogan said. “It was two evenly-matched teams, and Bob’s team executed better. We had too many mistakes in a lot of positions, and their team didn’t. My hat’s off to Bob. He outcoached us, and their team outplayed us.”
That the match went five sets shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who follows the teams. They split two regular-season five-setters.
“We know when we play Northern Cambria it’s going to be a long match,” Coach Kasun said. “We do know each other so well, and there is great respect between the two programs, and five-setters are the result of that.”
“We’re built for the fifth set,” Little said. “That’s where our natural talent comes out.”
It looked early on like it was going to be the Colts’ night as they rode the net play of St. Francis recruit Jeff Hogan and Nick Lee.
“Jeff is one of the best players in the state,” Coach Kasun said. “He’s a special talent. I think he’s going to have a great career at St. Francis.”
The Marauders picked up their play, particularly their big hitters – Kasun (nine service points, 14 kills, 14 digs, 42 assists), Jamey Brumbaugh (13 kills, 10 digs), Damon Rickens (11 kills, 13 digs) and Little (10 kills, five blocks).
“I thought Nick Little played real well,” Coach Hogan said. “Ben Kasun is the quarterback, and he executed very well. He was just smart and crafty all night.”
“What we stressed to the players before games two and three was we needed to be aggressive,” Coach Kasun said. “We were reacting to everything they were doing. We wanted to put the pressure on them, so they were reacting to us.”
Little’s emotional play might have been the deciding factor for BG. Little was pumping his fist and yelling after most of his kills.
“When I get going, the whole team gets going,” Little said, “and if I get down, they pull me right back up.”
“He stepped up a level with his talking and with his physical play,” Ben Kasun said. “He was getting up, getting blocks and just crushing the ball. That was a big deal for us because we needed that boost. When he gets pumped up, we all get pumped up.”
Northern Cambria’s win in the fourth set led to a nervewracking fifth set that was even for the first 14 points. BG pulled ahead and found itself up 10-9 when Little stepped up, recording a block and a kill to put the Marauders up 12-9.
Little’s spike at 12-9 was blocked by a Colt, but the ball bounced out of bounds, making it 13-9. The teams traded points, and then Ben Kasun made his shot.
“That was really special,” Ben Kasun said. “I saw it back in the corner, and I knew I had to take it. When it fell, that was probably the most special feeling of my life.”
That it was the coach’s son getting the last point in the first district title for BG is something to put in the family scrapbook.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t special for me,” Bob Kasun said, “but every one of these players is special to me, and I treat them all like they’re my kids.”
BISHOP GUILFOYLE: Kasun 9, Hurd 8, Little 6, Keating 6, Welteroth 5, Rickens 4, Brumbaugh 3.
NORTHERN CAMBRIA: Polites 10, Carroll 6, Hartman 6, Hogan 5, N. Lee 3, Zedack 2, Z. Lee 1.
Records: Bishop Guilfoyle (14-4); Northern Cambria (14-3).